“I’m okay,” I said, studying Creepy carefully. “I know what we should do.”
Since my vision was still enhanced, I was once again able to see Creepy far more clearly than he could see me, so I saw the narrow look of suspicion on his face.
“What?” he asked.
“We should fight our way in.”
“Oh,” Yoru leaned back against the wall of the alley from which we were peering, and folded his enormous arms. “This ought to be fun.”
Creepy was still squinting, but he produced Bob dutifully enough when I made to step from the alley mouth. His pride wouldn’t allow him to do otherwise.
“I’ll see you in the clerical office when I go to get my cobbler’s license renewed,” Yoru called softly after us as we crossed the courtyard. “I promise not to make fun of your voice.”
“He has so little faith in us,” I said, glancing at Creepy. Creepy was now sporting the carefully bored expression he always adopted when racking his brain for a way to escape from an undesirable situation or conversation. I accelerated, striding intrepidly for the guard-station-flanked portcullis, attracting the attention of the guards before Creepy’s brain-racking could bear fruit. My enhanced vision picked out movement inside the little station towers – movement that spoke not only of guards straightening to full attentiveness in the middle of a long and boring night, but also of other guards, behind the first guards, readying crossbows. It was all alarmingly businesslike.
“Hold it there,” one of the guards called, “present your identification.”
“Uh,” said Creepy.
“Sir Garçon de Chapeau of Cola,” I declared boldly, “and his new squire, Creepy of Couch.”
“I, you, what? Oh,” the guard seemed completely unprepared for this. I saw him lean forward and peer out through the chain mesh protecting his niche. “He’s dressed like a Paladin. You’re recruiting from the Paladin School now, my liege?”
“Yes,” I said, while Creepy feigned interest in his axe blade, “he is.”
For the first time, the guard turned to study me. “Bit of a chubby Paladin, aren’t you?”
“Are you going to let His Majesty in, or is he going to have to introduce you to the deep end of the circles of redemption?” I growled.
“Alright, alright, keep your hose on,” the soldier replied. “There are procedures to go through, you know. No Paladins allowed in the fortress. No exceptions. It’s in the rules.”
“So,” I said softly while the guards bustled around stamping permission forms and signing waivers and validating witness declarations, “been coming here long?”
“Ooh,” Creepy replied. “All afternoon.”